My spiritual journey, like that of many other people I’m sure, has had it’s ups and downs. Most times I have stuck to my faith regardless of the bumps in the road or obstacles in the way, and have continued to seek the will and glory of God looking for an open window when there was a closed door. Those times I passed the test. But other times I wrestled with God. Often it was just a question that couldn’t be answered. We all have struggled over loss. When we have suffered a loss, nothing has made sense. After a period of mourning and a tantrum or two, maybe some whining, the members of the faith community (God with skin on) love us, support us, and bring us back into relationship with the One who is always there for us.
Then at other times, loss piles on top of loss, one door closes after another without any windows opening for us. Those times make us physically tired, mentally worn out and spiritually exhausted. Your faith community even changes. Friends who used to be there are no longer there and new members have different circles of friends. You even lose touch with faithful people outside your own faith community. Sometimes people don’t even know you have needs. Other times needs are so great and pride so hurt that you don’t make your friends aware of your needs. You may even realize they have needs of their own that you cannot reciprocate. You feel like you fell into a deep dark pit and everybody walked away. You feel alone.
Several years back my spiritual life started a downward spiral. I had taught Sunday School, served on committees, facilitated scout activities and troops, lent a helping hand and participated in the parent organizations of my children’s school and out-of-school activities. I was always re-evaluating my contribution to the world and believed I could do better. I worked and went back to school to become an official teacher. I followed directions to give up my home health aide job and become a substitute teacher. At the same time we put one of our daughters through school and my husband suffered job loss and decreased salary in the next job. We refinanced the mortgage to make ends meet. The furnace blew and appliances needed replaced. We lost family members. Our other daughter grew up and moved away. Our son had health emergencies. Our mortgage became impossible to pay and the mortgage company refused to work with us. I went on many interviews for teaching jobs but those doors never opened. I wanted to figure out something about the mortgage. I was afraid when we were threatened with foreclosure that we would be forced out with no where to go. We made arrangements with the mortgage company through a prevent homelessness organization to find an apartment and let them know when we were all moved out. We did it quickly. We couldn’t do the right thing so we did the next right thing which was the wrong thing because they said we abandoned the property. They had a security company lock the house. Still nothing is settled. There were even more troubles than I can mention. Every emotional issue I ever had seemed compacted into a cannon ball in my stomach and my head felt like it was going to explode. Friends offers of prayers were not enough. These problems were too big to ask for help. I felt out of control, out of touch, and out of my mind. Even the church I had served in for so many years could not help.
I was depressed and anxious about the situation. And I was angry at God. I found myself not believing even God had any control over anything. When, at the suggestion of my step-mother, I stepped into the rooms of Al-anon, I didn’t want to hear anything about God or a Higher Power or spiritual program. One woman, seeing how broken I was exchanged phone numbers with me and encouraged me to call between meetings. She often referred to a picture of the Jesus on the cross, asked me to imagine what it must have been like for Mary or the disciples to see the One they believed was Messiah suffering and dying on the cross. They didn’t know God’s plan. They had to feel like their world was falling apart. She soon agreed to be my sponsor, prayed with me, and asked me often about how I was doing with prayers and church attendance. I felt abandoned by my church as well as God. At first I followed the prayers just because they are tools of the program. Later I would take a journal to the park and tell God how much he let me down. Soon I found ACoA. Later I started working on the steps in that program with another faithful woman. I slowly explored a couple of local churches and found one I thought maybe I could attend regularly. The church building overlooks a beautiful lake and the people are warm and friendly and inviting and compassionate. I am attending Bible study there as well as continuing in my recovery programs. I have slowly learned to let go of control and that I had no control over anything but myself.
My husband is confused by the change in me. He doesn’t understand why I am seeking God’s guidance before I jump into what seems like it might be an open door. I thought I would be substitute teaching for the rest of my life and have begun to write during as many hours as I have off from school. I have been asked to submit an application because somebody took notice of me. My husband doesn’t understand why it is not already done and why I had to consult God first. But it is my spiritual journey. I can no longer depend on my own unsteady will power. I need to rely on God and a healthier community of faith.
- Experience of God (12stepsthinkaboutit.org)
- Sunday School: It Ain’t Enough (shilohtemplecogic.wordpress.com)
- The Power of Prayer (everydayhealth.com)
- Pressed down, shaken together, running over: Letting the light shine (evotionals.net)
- A journey from doubt to faith (csmonitor.com)